01/15/08 — Trojan men improve to 5-0 at Kornegay Arena this season

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Trojan men improve to 5-0 at Kornegay Arena this season

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 15, 2008 1:48 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Coming off a seven-game road swing, the Mount Olive College men's basketball team rediscovered its homecourt advantage -- thanks to its bench -- Monday evening.

Freshmen Craig Hayes and Aaron Dobson led the Trojan reserves with 17 and 16 points, respectively, in a 99-64 thrashing of Conference Carolinas rival Coker (S.C.) College at Kornegay Arena. Mount Olive claimed its 13th consecutive victory in the series and 19th overall since 1998.

Dobson displayed dead-eye accuracy, hitting all four 3-point attempts -- including three during a late first-half run. Hayes converted seven of eight field goal attempts and helped the Trojans control the defensive boards.

Aking Elting, who relieved guard Justin Melton throughout the contest, provided eight points. Shaughhnon Washum contributed seven points. Overall, eight non-starters combined for 101 minutes of play as Mount Olive (10-3 overall) improved to 6-1 against conference opposition.

The teams battled through six lead changes and five ties during a 10-minute stretch in the opening half. Coker (5-9, 3-4 CC) worked to control the tempo and Mount Olive refused to gamble on defense, denying the Cobras any chance of creating a five-on-four opportunity with their dribble penetration.

Little by little, Mount Olive wore down and disrupted Coker's offense with aggressive defense. The Trojans increased the tempo and generated an offensive flow, while the Cobras constantly sputtered.

Tied at 22-22, Mount Olive's reserves fueled a 21-2 run which lasted less than five minutes. Hayes, Dobson and Elting combined for 12 points during that stretch. Kendrick Easley's 3-pointer off Justin Melton's assist, his fourth of the half, gave the Trojans a 43-24 lead with 4:59 left before halftime.

"Making teams gamble is part of their strategy and we preached not to gamble in practice," said Mount Olive head coach Bill Clingan. "We just hit a streak where they could do no right and we could do no wrong."

Elting, Hayes and Dobson continued to produce after Easley's bucket. The trio, who shot a combined 8-for-9 in the opening half, contributed six more points to make it 49-26.

"We had a lot of good efforts off the bench," said Clingan, whose reserves outscored the Cobras' subs 60-19. "We mix our kids up in practice and they're used to working with each other. That's a coach's dream when you can bring somebody off the bench and they can flow (into the offense).

"Our young kids are starting to come into their own a little bit, but they've got a long way to go."

Mount Olive led 52-32 at intermission and kept that advantage throughout the first few minutes of the second half. Coker pulled within 18 on two occasions on baskets by Mason Ambler, who scored a game-high 25 points, but could get no closer.

The Trojans shot 72 percent from the floor (18 of 25) in the second half and finished with a season-best 69.1 percent (38 of 55) for the game. They owned a 36-21 edge on the boards.

Easley supplied 14 points, while Melton and Brandon Streeter provided 11 and 10 points, respectively. Melton dished out a game-high six assists. Easley and Montel Jones pulled down six rebounds apiece.

"We need to build from here," said Clingan. "We can't be content. It's just the middle of the year and we've got a long way to go with some key games coming up."

Mount Olive, unbeaten in five home outings this season, visits Limestone (S.C.) University on Saturday. Tip-off is 7:30 p.m.